I have always loved and embraced the challenges of both the internal and external movements of life. At the age of 19, I left my home in Ethiopia and everything I had ever known, seeking a piece of the American dream. Carrying a bundle of anxieties, interspersed with innocent curiosity, I dove into the unknown. Packed in two suitcases was everything I thought I would need for a new life, and everything that tied me to the place and people I called home.
Since then, there have been only two facets of my life that have recreated that feeling of being home. The first was the deep personal relationships I nurtured along the way, which became the mirrors to my internal journey of discovering and rediscovering the joys of love, in turn feeding and guiding the external movement of my life. Secondly, since no physical place could replicate the comforts of home that I had left behind, I found my home in a life full of adventure, learning along the way that no attachment to a static external location could measure up to the thrill of living moment-to-moment.
I have devoted a majority of my life to keenly observing my inner reality and the world around me, and to working tirelessly to lift the veil created by the illusion of security. Gradually, I was able to open my eyes fully, and fearlessly embrace the unlimited potential of a life devoid of the constraints of material ownership, and the limitations of attachment to a linear path. In the process, I learned that relinquishing my innate freedom was a steep price I was not willing to pay.
During this period, guided only by the unpredictable flow of my internal life, I set up temporary homes and lived in a variety of places, never planning on how long they would last. During these stints of short-term external stability, I travelled to many locations around the United States and abroad. I spent countless hours visiting friends and family, listening to the call to deepen my relationships with them. I explored new and unfamiliar surroundings, feeding my desire to continually embrace the unknown.
Ultimately, a few years ago, it was this love for adventure; my distaste for a stagnant and static life; a face-to-face encounter with my mortality via a cancer diagnosis; and a craving to completely surrender to the unknown that inspired me to unburden myself from most of my already limited material possessions, and to embark on a life without a permanent home. Curious about how life would take care of itself without the involvement of ego and fear, I decided to experiment with life as a nomad. During this time, I found places to rest my head in the abode of friends and strangers, and also found companionship in the hearts of the many people that have become my extended family. I have been humbled by the kindness and generosity of people. I have been surprised by the deep yearning in people to receive the gift of time and friendship, in a world that has shrunk so rapidly, and stolen away precious time in the process. I have been touched by the level of people's appreciation, when time and presence are offered with unconditional love and sincerity. I have reveled in the myriad magical experiences that have sprung up spontaneously, continually inspiring me to express them through writing and other creative endeavors.
As a result of traversing such an unconventional path, I have grown to love times spent inside moving metal contraptions. Planes, trains, and automobiles have become my mobile homes. As I enter my car, hop on a train, or board a flight, my adventurous spirit finds its fulfillment and resting place in the ensuing simplification of life, and in the freedom and internal silence that accompanies it. The creative inspiration that flows from this silence is always pregnant and glowing with possibilities. I have fallen in love with mobility and the sense of independence it elicits. My love affair with traveling has always been a reflection of my lifelong romance with the inner journey, and the interplay between external movement and internal rest has become a deeply inspirational place, and a source of boundless creative energy. My most intrinsically rewarding creative expressions have been birthed while sitting in this silence, aboard one of my mobile homes.
I remember taking an Amtrak train from San Diego to Seattle a couple of years ago, and dreading the inevitable conclusion of a 30-plus hour trip...simply because I had so thoroughly enjoyed it. I spent the day either gazing at the fantastic blur of passing shapes and colors from my sleeper car window, or sitting down to write in the lounge car, my entire being oozing with inspiration. During the night, lying down under the sheets, warm and cozy, marveling at the simple mechanical efficiency that miraculously transformed two seats into a single bed, I felt as though I was back in the comforts of my childhood home in Ethiopia. Observing the dark sky peppered with celestial spheres; contemplating the many lives and stories zooming by; listening to the comforting sounds of chugging and clanking…time ceased to exist. I was transported to all the beasts of burden, horse drawn carriages, manually operated and motorized two-wheelers, locomotives, aquatic vessels, and flying machines that have moved people throughout history, bearing witness to their joys and sorrows. I felt connected to people I had never met and to moments I had never encountered, the train acting as my humble medium. All I wanted to do was create stories about life and its unpredictable, magical, and timeless movement. I delighted in imagining these stories being read by a fellow train traveler…sitting in a lounge chair and sipping a cup of tea, or lying down in a sleeper car having turned the night lamp on.